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Room of the Month - The Harmony Bathroom

By Sarah Van Arsdale on February 13, 2009

At NYIAD we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for designing every room they create:

  1. A successful room is functional.
  2. A successful room expresses a mood.
  3. A successful room exhibits a sense of harmony.

This simple Three-Step Method is the secret of every interior ever designed. We teach our interior design students to consider these three steps every time they look at a room. You'll find the great home decorating ideas in our Room of the Month series as well as in the design tips on this site helpful in creating outstanding room designs.

When our students mail in their interior design project for analysis by their instructor, the instructor starts by commenting on these three Guidelines. Of course, the instructor analyzes other elements of the project too – decor, layout, furniture, style etc. But the key to good decor – and the essential element of every great interior design – is adherence to these three NYIAD Guidelines.

How do they work? How can you apply them? It's beyond the scope of this Web site to teach you every nuance, but you will get an inkling from the Room of the Month Analysis that follows.

Harmony Bath
Harmony Bath

In each issue of Designer Monthly, we take a look at a room we think has been designed with particular panache. We look at it using one of our tried-and-true techniques, the three NYIAD Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.

This month, we’ve chosen this small but very pretty bath.

Looking first at function, every bathroom has the foremost function of taking care of one’s hygenic needs; where this changes is in terms of how many people live in the house, and how many may be using the room.

This room functions perfectly well for an individual or a couple, but of course would be too small for a big family. Large baths can boast double sinks and a separate toilet or shower stall, but due to space limitations, this one must function in the more traditional layout of one sink, one bath, one toilet.

But the small space doesn’t mean that great design has to be sacrified. On the contrary, sometimes the smaller spaces really push us our creativity.

The mood of this room is clean and casual, and what we could call “contemporary/old-fashioned.” It looks like a room in a farmhouse, but a farmhouse that’s been carefully renovated and preserved. The beadboard wainscotting, pedestal sink, and clawfoot tub add to this old-fashioned look, but the clean lines, the use of black-and-white, and the window without any fussy curtain bring it into a more updated look. The geometric rug, the clear, simple light fixture, and the few decorative items also contribute to the feeling this room is of our day, rather than being stuck in the past.

Finally, looking at the harmony of this cute bath, we see that everything works together. It was a brilliant move to paint the outside of the tub black, which makes the room look more modern and is also easy to match, with the rug, the mirror, and the black-and-white print on the wall. The harmony is furthered by the elegant lines of the sink and tub — not surprising, as they date to the same era.

The harmony of line is complemented by the straight lines of the beadboard wall, which help make the room look neat and clean.

While there are a few decorative items on the natural shelf created by the beadboard, this room doesn’t look cluttered, because the decorations are simple and carefully chosen.

This small room packs a big design punch, and illustrates how you can use the NYIAD Guidelines to Interior Design in creating any room.